December 6 â Forget Santa’s red outfit with white borders.
For Paula and Terry Odom, this year’s Christmas Angel was all dressed in brown.
Darrell Slack has driven the recognizable brown box buggy for nearly three decades, but last week he’s gone above and beyond.
It was on Cyber ââMonday, which seems somewhat fitting, that Slack became a local hero in Turtletown.
Let him set the scene.
âSo I was making a delivery to their neighbors, and Paula is in the front yard, and she’s really clueless,â said Slack, who lives in Cleveland but covers more eastern Tennessee than kudzu in her delivery duties. “She was screaming and I really had no idea what was going on. All she kept saying was ‘He’s gone, he’s gone.’
“So I asked her what she meant.”
Terry Odom had taken to the streets looking for Pete, the longtime family dog, who had escaped.
Terry Odom informed Slack of the dilemma and gave details of the dog’s name and his red harness. Pete had managed to get out of the gate, and given that the Odoms live near the edge of the Cherokee National Forest, well, the further out of sight he was, the more likely he was that Pete found his way home. Armed with this knowledge and several other deliveries to make, Slack got back to work and told Paula Odom he would keep his eyes peeled for Pete.
âWe lost a dog a few years ago, and not knowing is the worst,â Slack said.
Slack made a few stops with his mind torn between his day job and Pete, but there was no sign of the Odoms’ pet.
âI made about five deliveries, I guess, and up there it might be a few miles between the houses. Some of the walkways are half a mile long,â Slack said. “It’s a distant route.”
Slack took one of those long driveways, one that led to a few cabins in a gated community, and a red lightning bolt caught his eye. He stopped his truck and saw Pete about 20 yards down the driveway at the edge of the woods. Slack got out of his UPS vehicle and called out the dog’s name.
âHe kind of stopped and looked at me,â Slack said.
Due to the nature of their job, Slack is always prepared for two types of barking: angry people and anxious animals. He manages the first with kindness. The second, well, Slack said he never starts a shift without a supply of Heartland Farms dog treats from Dollar General.
So, with a handful of dog snacks, Slack kept calling out the dog’s name and offering the treat as he slowly walked over to Pete. Pete slowly walked over to Slack and when he took the treat, Slack picked up the puppy.
âI put him in the back because I didn’t want him to jump out the door,â Slack said.
After running to the cabin, Slack returned to the Odoms with easily the most memorable delivery of his 29 years on the job.
âShe was thrilled,â Slack said of Paula Odom’s reaction. “I told my wife her reaction was the funniest thing I can remember in a long time.
Who knows what brown might do for you indeed.
Contact Jay Greeson at [email protected]